Finding fresh in-season vegetables can be hard for most of the year, and this recipe’s key vegetables don’t all fall under the same season. Your best bet on gathering the freshest ingredients will be at a local health or specialty food market. It can be difficult to locate leeks and fennel bulbs in your typical supermarket, but your palate will agree: the extra effort in sourcing ingredients is worth it.
In the preparation section below – you may notice we suggest you cut your vegetables to a certain length before cooking. Though they eventually enter a food processor, maintaining these suggested cut lengths makes the process a lot easier. Cutting your vegetables longer than recommended will require longer cook times and may result in a chunkier final product than desired.
Cooking and Serving Tips
The key to this recipe is a food processor. If you don’t have one on hand, we recommend skipping this recipe. A blender will not have the same effect for many reasons, the biggest being the texture we are trying to accomplish with our asparagus, fennel, and spinach combination.
It’s very easy to overprocess cooked vegetables. Make sure to use the pulse feature (if you have one) to maintain more control over the final texture of your mixture. With the amount of vegetables in this recipe – a larger food processor should get this done in one batch. If you are working with a smaller one, it may require splitting the veggies into batches.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for approximately ten minutes, until fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside.
Add the potatoes to a medium pot with the leek and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Once your potatoes are soft (fork-test), put everything from the pot into a food processor, purée, and reserve.
Increase the oven to 500°F.
Cut the asparagus and the fennel into 1-inch pieces and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them evenly on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until brown on edges, but not soft. Remove from the oven, place in a food processor with the cleaned spinach, and pulse 4 to 8 times to achieve a rustic, rough-chopped look.
When ready to serve, combine the potato mixture and the asparagus mixture in a pot with the rice vinegar, cheese, and spices, and heat through. Garnish with one teaspoon of hazelnuts per serving and several drops of Cholula or your favorite bright red hot sauce.
6 to 8
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 3 small russet potatoes, peeled & chopped
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1-1/2 quarts low sodium chicken stock
- Large bunch of asparagus
- Medium bulb of fennel
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground back pepper to taste
- 1/2 bunch spinach
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 ounces Beecher’s Just Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
Substitutions: Beecher’s Dulcet cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon crumbled rosemary
- Your favorite hot sauce
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